After sleeping very little and deciding to stay where we were, labor was induced the morning of Sunday, July 26. Induction started slowly, as my body was only 33 weeks pregnant and not prepared for labor. I hadn’t had any cramping or spotting; my body was still completely unaware our baby had died. To start labor, I took a pill every few hours (probably Cytotec, I don’t remember), and small contractions came and went throughout the day. Our Sunday nurse had also experienced infant loss and had some insight for us throughout the day.
Nick’s parents arrived from Minnesota in the afternoon, as they had planned to come to my baby shower. Our parents and my sister and brother-in-law were with us for most of the day. Other special visitors arrived off and on—all of my grandparents, many aunts and uncles and cousins. I loved having them there, sharing tears and hugs with everyone who came to see us and show us their love for our baby and us. I wish I had thought to take pictures with them all. My parents’ pastor even came and prayed with us after church, and told us of the many people at the church I grew up in also lifting us up in prayer. We (mostly Nick) also made calls to our friends and family who couldn’t be with us, and we found sharing the news of our baby’s death to be one of the most difficult things we’d ever done.
When my pregnancy was still normal, I was planning to try to give birth without any major pain medications. I didn’t have a strong reason for a more natural birth, I’m not against medicine and other interventions, but I also wanted to participate in as much of the delivery experience as possible. I did make it through the entire start of labor on Sunday with just Tylenol. I remember my sister, who labored three months earlier with my nephew, telling a nurse, “Isn’t she so brave!” I joked in return, “I ran a marathon, and this is nothing.” Physically true. Emotionally untrue. I sometimes fell to my knees and cried in agony between contractions. This situation was not normal. We were just entering what was to become our new normal.
It wasn’t until late Sunday evening, when our nurse from Saturday night returned, that I had an epidural. I knew the Pitocin part of induction was coming, and my understanding was Pitocin-induced contractions could really suck. I still wasn’t sure I wanted more medication, because I really felt I was handling the physical pain, but I was unsure I could handle all of the pain together. Looking back, I am glad I did it… the epidural was amazing! Nick says I gave him a HUGE smile when the medication began to take effect, and we got a chuckle out of my need to have people wiggle my legs from time to time so I could “remember they were there.” At that point, I was confined to bed until I could feel my legs again after delivery, but I rested fairly well Sunday night thanks to the epidural. I was so relaxed and it may have helped us relax emotionally as well… Nick and I even watched a movie when we were alone in the evening.
Early Monday morning, Nick and I awoke early, snuggled in my hospital bed as clouds gathered outside the windows, put on an All Sons & Daughters Pandora station on my iPad, and spent quiet time together in prayer and conversation. Family and friends from a distance texted and emailed us Scriptures we read together as we prepared for what was coming. Those quiet hours with Nick are some of the most special and sacred hours of my life and our marriage.
We were also perusing the baby name books to find boy names and girl names, and were coming up with nothing we both liked. Agreeing on names had been difficult for months, and it wasn’t any easier now.
I was still feeling very little from the contractions when our parents all arrived. Maybe a half hour after their arrival I started feeling way stronger contractions. It was time. It was time to deliver our dead baby. We still had music playing, and our nurse coached me on how to push. Yeah, we had gone to a baby class, but we thought we had seven more weeks to practice pushing strategies, and I felt unprepared. I don’t know if it showed outside, but I panicked a little inside. I was thankful for her calm presence and her expertise. When our doctor arrived, we only took about four contractions and big pushes to bring our little one into our world. I felt a release, and I knew she was out. There were no cries, no sound beyond the gentle rain falling outside and the soulful harmonies of All Sons & Daughters. Emotion immediately flooded over me; I was proud, I was happy, we had our baby and she was beautiful. We probably also cried, but I don’t remember (Nick says we did).
Nick was able to cut the cord and announced, “It’s a girl… right?” (Yes, the doctor confirmed). We had a girl. A girl! What I was hoping for more than anything, and what many had predicted for us. We were able to hold her right away, and were given time alone with her. We were very emotional, but we were together. Our family of three.
Rayna H. Lindberg was born still at 9:26 am, Monday, July 27, 2015, at the same hospital I was born in almost 29 years before.
And all the hearts that are content
And all who feel unworthy
And all who hurt with nothing left
Will know that you are holy
And all will sing out
And we will cry out
– All Sons & Daughters, All The Poor & Powerless –